This is the 2nd post in the series “Marketing Jesus on the Quad”. Click to read the 1st post.
I know. I don’t like the thought of “marketing Jesus” either.
But in this age, “all communication will be perceived as marketing. All self-presentation, even church advertising, will be perceived as branding. And all outreach will be viewed as sales. There is nothing we can do to change this context.” – Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
So for simplicity, I’ll use the term “marketing” (my goal is not to split hairs over semantics but to think through how we can better communicate the good news to this generation of college students).
As I’ve chewed on the implications of horizontal marketing for college ministry (see my initial post for an intro), I keep coming back to: we’ve got to figure out what we’re “selling”.
What ideas are we hoping students will spread?
What exactly do we want students to talk about?
We want students to talk about Jesus.
But, there’s really TWO things we want students to talk about:
- Jesus AND Cru (for the sake of brevity I will use “Cru” throughout, but I really mean “Cru or whatever org/church/ministry you’re a part of”)
Think about it: why don’t we just put up posters on campus that say “Come become a follower of Jesus – 8:30 – Tuesday nights”?
Why is our lead foot often to “sell” Cru? And is that wrong?
We are unapologetic in wanting to students to passionately promote Cru.
Because we know that through getting involved in a movement like Cru, students will encounter Christ and join His mission to seek and save the lost.
Seth Godin captures this thinking well in his book Tribes. It’s essentially a how-to book on how to create a movement that will change the world. And what is the main ingredient? “Humans need to belong . . . and connect around an idea”.
David Mays has a thorough summary/key quotes from Tribes here
A movement like Cru provides the key ingredient that will get over student’s indifference and/or antagonism toward God: belonging.
Getting swept up in a movement of peers who love and wholeheartedly serve Jesus.
Many students need to belong before they believe.
Dallas Willard echoes this in his thoughts on evangelism: “Many people will be drawn in without any special strategy but simply by the health of the people.”
Seth Godin poses what I think is THE question for horizontal marketing:
“How can we make it easier for people to talk about what they’re up to and what they care about?”
The solutions we’re looking for seem to break down into two categories:
- How do we make it easier for them to talk about Jesus?
- How do we make it easier for them to talk about Cru?
And I think both are legitimate (and two pretty different) things:
- We want to help our students learn, especially in a new world of social media, how to easily share with their friends what is most important to them (Jesus).
- But we also want to make it easy for students to passionately persuade their lost friends to join a movement of believers (Cru) where they will encounter Jesus.
So I would love to take on each of these in separate posts in the next few days in hopes that, together, we can figure out how to better accomplish each.
What are you thoughts? What are we marketing- Jesus or Cru? Is there room for both?